Summer is upon us and these warm months stir up treasured memories for me. In July, my oldest child will turn 16. How did time move so fast? I remember well those last few weeks of pregnancy. And I remember well, all of my ideas and plans for motherhood. Oh my. Silly me. I had no idea. I remember very distinctly saying that motherhood was not going to "change me" or rule my life. It was going to be a grand part of my life, but this tiny little bundle of bouncing baby was not going to alter our lifestyle or change who I was! Period. End of story.
Ok, are you laughing yet? I am. But lets go back to pre-child me for a moment because it really is quite comical. We took a birthing class where they teach you how to breathe and show you a short little "movie"that allows you to see just what to expect on the big day. I was horrified! Here was this woman almost completely naked, with umpteen different people in and out of her hospital room and she didn't seem to care! I quickly leaned over to my husband and said, "That will NOT be me. I want you to make sure all my body parts are covered at all times." Then she proceeded to decline the epidural! She birthed that child without pain medication! Again, I leaned over to my poor husband, who was probably a little shell shocked at this point, and reminded him, "I WILL get that epidural and I WILL get it as soon as they will allow it! No pain for me, honey!" I also made note that this woman we had just watched, did not look so good. I was going to make sure I looked nice because after all this was going to be a big day and there were sure to be many photographic opportunities. I also talked about if... if, I had to get a c-section, which I was certain I would not need, because surely I could push this baby out, hubby was to make sure the incision was low enough down NOT to be noticed in a swim suit. I felt rather good about my plan and I was ready!
Our sweet friends and family had thrown us numerous baby showers and we had everything we could possibly need for our new child. I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of stuff one small infant could need but none the less I had it all organized and tucked away ready for use. I had a plan here too. My house was NOT going to be one of those houses that had the baby paraphernalia strewn all over the place cluttering up my carefully decorated abode. The bright garish fabrics and plastics just did not match a thing in my present decor. Nope not going to happen.
I was also not going to give up my running. One of my favorite gifts was the running stroller. I would push my little tot in this soon after birth to get back in shape. He/she would love it, time spent outdoors in the fresh air viewing the world and all its sights and sounds!
And lets talk about my schedule. I was in charge of that and baby would fit nicely into my routine, after all, we had read and studied in detail a popular book about fitting baby into your schedule and not letting said baby be in charge. Laughing yet???
In the last few weeks of pregnancy it was hot. I was growing larger and more uncomfortable. My stylish little shoes no longer were an option as my feet were ridiculously swollen. In fact, I had to wear Keds to a wedding! I was so ready to be a mother and embark on this new phase of life. I am laughing again. I had NO idea what I was in for! Right before my world was rocked, I remember reading an article about how motherhood changes you. It was a conversation a mother was having with her friend who was thinking of starting a family. She went on to say to her dear friend, just how much her life was going to change. The article touched me deeply and brought tears to my eyes but I didn't truly get it....as I wasn't a mother yet.
Ok, so now the big day arrives. I had small contractions that were quite manageable and the doctor said to come on in. I showered, spiffied myself up, you know for all the pictures that were going to be taken, tidied up the house, and headed into my new frontier. We checked in and I changed into the lovely hospital gown handed to me and climbed into the prepared bed to begin the waiting and pushing. I reminded my husband of all the things we had discussed-no uncovered body parts, epidural, pictures, etc. We were ready! LOL
All hell broke loose. My world was rocked. My nice neat, planned- out world was turned upside down. It started out ok, I got the epidural at the first sign of discomfort but then......it all fell apart. Hot spots where the epidural didn't work, back labor, epidural not working at all,pain. lots of pain, hours of pushing, baby not in the right position, baby in distress, the word c-section being discussed, umpteen people in and out of the room, etc. I was a mess. At that point, I did not care if I were naked in the middle of a freeway. I was in so much pain I just wanted it to stop. And get my baby out! Cut me right down the middle of my stomach- just don't let anything happen to my baby! Pictures-never a thought- and that was a good thing, as my hair resembled a large birds nest and my face had red scratch marks on it from one of the medications that made me itch, my eyes were so swollen from pushing so hard for hours that I looked like a boxer. I was whisked away to surgery as a c-section was needed immediately. After many attempts to numb the area I was still feeling everything so general anesthesia was the plan. There were to be no happy pictures of the baby being born and placed on my chest, with my husband smiling next to me. He was pushed out of the room. I was put under. And I awoke sometime later to my husband's smiling face and the news we had a healthy 8lb- 140z baby girl! We named her Julia Irene.
So, are you seeing that maybe having a baby does "alter" your plans? Yea well, I still didn't quite get it. I was still sticking to my plans! We came home 5 days later with our new daughter and we began our lives together. I was going to get back on track and stick to our well thought out plans. Hee hee hee. Very quickly my house resembled a baby superstore. I could not run. I wasn't even allowed to go up stairs. I had a very large scar that looked quite lovely-side note- it was down low :) She had NO eating schedule. She wanted to eat nonstop. Breastfeeding was way harder than I had anticipated and it HURT! I was always tired as she slept very little at night. My house was a disaster. I was a disaster. Showers? A thing of the past. If I could get my teeth brushed it was a good day. I had a bit of post-pardum depression and would get quite weepy every night as I would think, "Oh no! I have to get up tomorrow and do this AGAIN! She will be here tomorrow. She is not going away!" I was totally overwhelmed and I was grieving for the loss of my life as it was before. All you first time moms out there, I am here to tell you it does get better. You will embrace motherhood. Heck, I have 5 kids now!!!!
I struggled through those first few exhausting months and one day I got out of the house alone and headed to the grocery store. Big Outing! I was just about a mile down the road when I had a panic attack. I had to pull over. Thoughts rushed through my head, "What if something happens to me? Who will take care of my baby? Who will be my daughter's mother? Who will watch out for her and meet all of her needs?"A fierce love for her invaded every fiber of my soul and I cried. I realized right then and there that my life would NEVER be the same. The words in that article came screaming back to me. I got it. Motherhood changes you. It changes your heart. It alters your lifestyle. It affects your plans and time schedules but moreover it recreates you into something much more beautiful and much less selfish and superficial. I would like to say that I completely embraced this notion from that point on. I did not. I still fought it to some degree. But I slowly started to see that it was ok to lose parts of myself, parts that maybe weren't quite so stellar and replace them with parts that reflected a love that is like no other. My new daughter and I began a bond that carries us to this day. She showed me what real love looks like.
We eventually tried that running stroller out and we logged many miles together. I still have that rusty old thing and I am still pushing kids in it 16 years later. In fact, I trained for my first marathon with my second child riding in it. My house has, at all times, toys and shoes and paraphernalia strewn throughout its hallways and rooms. My schedule...it is a thing of the past. With 5 kids, my schedule is their schedule. I occasionally get to look nice but most days it is running attire and baseball hats. BUT..... I wouldn't trade it for the world! I get to be five little people's mother! And my heart has so much love it overflows. I have learned what is truly important in life through these little people. And God has planted new dreams and plans in my heart that are far greater and far more meaningful than I could ever have anticipated all those years ago. If you had told me 16 years ago that I would be the mother of five, three of them adopted from a foreign county across the world.....I would have said you were crazy. Nope. Not me. Not my plans. Insert laughter here. His plans are always better than our plans. His ways always better than ours. Aren't they?
So as I near the momentous occasion of celebrating Sweet 16 with this first baby of mine and I try to find the perfect gift to mark this occasion I hope that this little blog post serves as a gift to her and to all my children as they become parents for the first time years from now. I want them to know just how much children do change you and that it is ok. You will gain so much more than you will ever lose. Thank you my dearly loved brood of five for helping to make me into a better person and for filling my heart with an abundance of love! You are all truly treasured gifts and I can't imagine a better life plan!